Men's Track & Field Wins Distance Medley Relay At MIAA Indoor Championships

Hope's distance medley relay poses for a picture. By Lenny Padilla
Collin Thomas isn't usually a 400-meter runner, but the Hope College senior played the role well on Saturday.
Thomas, who is normally runs the 800, raced the 400 three different times during the MIAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday, which were held at Aquinas College. Thomas helped the Flying Dutchmen win the distance medley relay in 10 minutes, 48.53 seconds. Hope finished in fourth place at the meet with 89 points.

"It was good," said Thomas, of Novi, Michigan (Novi HS). "We're going to try to run the DMR at nationals. I don't train with any of the guys that I ran with in the DMR, but it's really cool to see the distance team come together for that."

Sophomore Zackary Murphy of Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater) ran the opening leg of the distance medley relay, followed by Thomas, junior Brenden Jones of Holland, Michigan (Black RIver) and freshman Nick Hoffman of Holland, Michigan (Holland).

"Anytime you put one of your top sprinters in there (in Thomas), it will chop some time off," head coach Kevin Cole said. "I thought Zack did a nice job leading it off. Running the 1,200 is hard." 

Thomas said the 800 meters is normally his specialty. 

"They moved me down to the 400 because they thought I could help score more points, so it's been fun," Thomas said. "I hadn't done much speed work all season and they had me do the 400s today."

Thomas finished fourth in the open 400 in 52.02 and helped the 4x400 relay finished second in 3:26.22. The rest of the team was sophomore Terrell Solberg of Traverse City, Michigan (T.C. Central), junior Owen Ljung of Sonoma, California and Jones.

"I thought we were going to have (the win)," Ljung said. "But the handoffs were better. We've been working on those. I think we have a good chance (to win) during outdoor."

Ljung also finished second in the 800 meters (1:56.82), the top individual finish for Hope.

"For this track, it was OK," Ljung said. "I think I could go faster. I just didn't want to get boxed in and I did that."

Cole thinks Ljung can go faster, too.

"He's strong," Cole said. "I think he's got some faster times in him yet. It's going to be exciting when we go outside and open things up and start to chase some national times."

The Flying Dutchmen took a hit when their top sprinter, Justin Freeman, a senior from Holland (West Ottawa HS), pulled out of all his events after a hamstring injury.

"He had a hamstring pull in the prelims of the 60 meters," Cole said. "It's severe enough that he couldn't run today. It's a potential 20 points that we could have had. It hurts, but I think others picked it up. You always have to plan on a few injuries and things that don't go your way."

Hope also picked up a third-place finished in the 60 meters as Korey Derr, a junior from Grand Rapids (Northview HS) clocked a time of 7.05 seconds. 

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